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GPLv3: What is an alternative solution?

As suspected, the criticizing position statement by Linux kernel developers on GPLv3 which calls for the termination of the GPLv3 process is stirring the pot. Free Software foundation has issued a response claiming that the recent discussion brought some misleading information and tried to address and clarify it. Soon after Linus Torvalds released a statement of his own, this time taking a more positive approach by praising GPLv2 with an attitude of "not caring so much about why the GPLv3 is worse, but a much more positive 'Why the GPLv2 is _better_".

I would have to applaud this attempt at putting a positive spin on the discussion. At the very least it disperses a view that could potentially develop among outsiders not knowing too much about GPL and not involved in the discussion, that when questioning GPLv3, it is whole GPL (no matter the version) which is being brought in question.

Linus makes a good point about the advantage of GPLv2. It is simpler and describes an universally understood "this for that", "tit for tat" or "quid pro quo" concept. It grants certain rights to a software user (which can also be a developer) under the condition that the user respect those same rights for others as well. Hence you can take a piece of software along with the right to use, modify and share it as you wish, but you cannot restrict the next person who you may share the software with from having exactly those same rights. In the same sense a programmer can take code from a pool of GPLed software and develop it into his own program, but under the condition that this derivate be free for others just as the code he took was free for him.

GPLv2 doesn't deal with anything else explicitely, but the principle described above. GPLv3 however goes a bit further by explicitely addressing certain threats and this explicity is something Linus apparently opposes.
What his argument seems to be missing, though, is that there is a very good reason for which this explicity is being introduced. GPLv2 is not just a simple message, but a copyright license that is meant to protect rights it grants. You would think that the copyright law is the one which should play this role, but in face of DRM this is apparently not the case. You can obey copyright law, and still infringe on the intent behind GPLv2 essentially breaking the "quid pro quo" state of things that GPLv2 tries to establish and which is what Linus praises.

Linus mentions that GPLv2 works, but it seems that this is only true until you introduce DRM into the picture and its ability to practically circumvent the desired outcome of the license.

So far, we have seen criticism of GPLv3 and praise of GPLv2, but the core problems that GPLv3 tries to solve remain unsufficiently addressed. The question remains, what do critiques, including in this case Linus Torvalds, suggest as an alternative solution for the problem of DRM and software patents and especially its ability to circumvent the intent behind GPLv2? We haven't heard any real constructive ideas for that yet.

I suppose we shall stay tuned.

Thank you
Danijel Orsolic




>>what do critiques, including in this case Linus Torvalds, suggest as
>>an alternative solution for the problem of DRM and software patents
>>and especially its ability to circumvent the intent behind GPLv2

Linus does NOT care! He does NOT feel the need to prevent Tivoization or any other DRM!
Not everybody's an activist, not everybody's RMS!

Do nothing!


I'm with Linus on this one, Tivoisation won't be stopped by GPLv3, they'll just use an inferour closed source bit of code instead. If we're stuck with TIVO lets have a high quality secure TIVO.

Same goes for trusted computing.

Besides TIVO gives their code back, quite possiblely the MythTV guys study/use it, thats all the licence should make them do.

The GPL v3 does not have magical powers


It will not save us from DRM, Treacherous Computing, or stupid legislation. None of those have been caused by a software license, none of them will be solved by one.

What the GPL v3 is not

Maybe not, but a software


Maybe not, but a software license can help us fight DRM and treacherous computing.

So am I right to assume that

So am I right to assume that there is no alternative solution in sight?

So what is Linus's problem!? He shouts, criticizes, bashes and misinforms, and yet he has so little to offer.



pfft, We'd all still be using 2.4 kernels if it were up to him, right? ;-)

If anyone wants a glimpse at what the FSF's main points and concerns are with the v3, head on over to the twit network and download the latest FLOSS weekly. I'm going to have to listen to it three or four times before i fully grasp what that guy was talking about. it's a good look at what they're trying to solve with the v3 of the GPL.

who are you to object?


It is their kernel, if it is ok with them to use it in DRM devices, then who are you to object?

The Alternative


Linux isn't offering an alternative because we're already using it...the alternative is
to *allow Tivo-ization* via GPL2. You can make your hardware so that it requires a
specific version of GPL2 code...but give me the code back so I can study it, use it,
and do whatever I want--on my own hardware. Thats what Linus is saying is the alternative.
And I agree with him.



Linus' problem is that he now speaks for OSDL... meaning IBM, HP etc etc, and they DO want the Linux kernel to be used for Trusted Computing based DRM. Torvalds hasn't said a correct thing about the GPL v3 since the initial draft, and he's getting more and more shrill in his condemnations.

The writing is on the wall


Already now general purpose machines like Playstations need to get "modded" in order to be able to run software that the user wants to run. "Trusted computing" and its ilk are slated as the future of computers. If it becomes impossible to acquire computers running any software that the manufacturer does not like, the availability of source code is no longer useful for hackers (people making clever new uses of the machine's abilities), but only for crackers (people exploiting vulnerabilities for gaining illicit access).

Torvald's solution is "build your own devices". But at the current miniaturization, this is impossible for anybody without a multi-billion budget: you have to rely on prebuilt circuits.

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